Articles & Reviews

‘I didn’t know if I even really existed. But I do’: music, dance, and the performance of male identity in ‘Joker’
Like Bickle, Fleck tries out a series of personae over the course of the film, cobbled from elements of popular culture, especially television: beloved and dutiful son, standup comic, lover, vigilante clown, and finally, Joker, prime time assassin and emergent cult leader.
‘Mental disorders in popular film: how Hollywood uses, shames, and obscures mental diversity’
"‘Madness’ is a common feature in cinema, with filmmakers drawn to the heightened emotion and distortions of reality that circulate around actual or alleged ‘insanity.’
‘The superhero symbol: media, culture & politics’
‘Becoming the Superhero’ is perhaps the most interdisciplinary section of the anthology. Steven Conway gets things rolling with an incisive examination of agency and narratology in the Arkham series of Batman videogames.
‘Troubling masculinities: terror, gender, and monstrous others in American film post-9/11’
Nevertheless, Donnar’s book is a meticulous examination of masculinity in Hollywood genre films during a specific period of time and adds great value to the discourse surrounding masculinity in contemporary culture.
“‘Nathan for You’ and the New Sincerity Aesthetic”
Excerpt: "Nathan for You repeatedly suggests that communication in the postmodern era is premised on manipulation and attempts to bypass reason in order to coerce, flatter, wheedle, or trick the consumer into buying particular products. Many of the small-business owners Nathan encounters are perfectly willing to employ such insidious methods to generate higher profits, but—crucially—they also seem willing to use these methods in other human interactions as well, thereby confirming Jameson’s claim that capitalism’s insatiable …
“Cancelling the Apocalypse: ‘Pacific Rim’ as Chthulucinema”
Excerpt: "If this sounds like the standard fare of action-driven alien invasion movies, then ideologically the film would ostensibly embrace a similar logic, in that the kaiju come here only to fight, and so must be defeated – technologized humans thus sending packing alien invaders who, put simply, are not welcome. However, while this might seem like an open-and-shut case of conservative politics, one that is not least reaffirmed through the attempt in the film …
“Cinema/Politics/Philosophy”
"Baumbach teases out Deleuze for a political commentary on cinematic thought related to digitality, taking inspiration from Deleuze’s later writing(s) about the looming ubiquity of data-collection (control-power) and the possibility of a third regime…"
“Cinematic Arkitecture: ‘Silent Running’ and the Spaceship Earth Metaphor”
"The power of the Spaceship Earth metaphor comes from the suggestion that the earth is in fact a small, closed system within a black void. A spaceship is a tightly controlled life-support system with just enough resources aboard to ensure survival for the duration of the mission…"
“Doubled Visions: Reflexivity, Intermediality and Co-Creation in Clouzot’s ‘The Mystery of Picasso’ and von Trier’s and Leth’s ‘The Five Obstructions’”
Excerpt: "Diverging from most art documentaries, but in accordance with such processual reflexivity and intermediality, in its form as well as content and rhetoric, Mystery presents itself as a developing, mutable creation no less than Picasso’s improvisatory creations within it. Moreover, the film is constructed so as to appear directly responsive to the rhythms, subjects, and formats of Picasso’s pictures: dramatically changing in relation to them in style, tone, and even screen format as it …
“Hollywood’s Dirtiest Secret: the Hidden Environmental Costs of the Movies”
"Rather than just speculating about the epistemological conditions of the past that manifested in a particular rapport with the environment, Vaughan posits material history as the primary entity from which such conclusions…"
“Losing Control: ‘Until Dawn’ as Interactive Movie”
"In terms of its gameplay and narrative structure, Until Dawn follows the lead of the interactive movies of the 1990s and their modern-day counterparts, like David Cage’s Heavy Rain and Beyond: Two Souls. Well-known video game critic Yahtzee Croshaw (2015) called Until Dawn ‘probably the best David Cage-style “interactive story” type game…"
“Monkeywrenched Images: Ecocinema and Sabotage”
"Ugliness in modern art retains the persistence of a fear of nature that had supposedly been surpassed by modernity’s overcoming of the archaic. As Adorno argues, ‘the image of beauty as that of a single and…"
“Recovering the TV Career of Korean American Comedian Johnny Yune”
Excerpt: "When delivering his line, Yune intentionally mispronounces ‘Honolulu’ as ‘Honoruru,’ prompting laughter from the audience as well as his costars. Deliberate mispronunciation of words is a common gimmick in Yune’s routine. In this case, Yune specifically mixes up ‘l’ and ‘r’ sounds, which is a staple in his act but also a hackneyed stereotype that derides Asian English-speakers who cannot distinguish the two sounds…
“The Cultural Politics of Jennifer Lawrence as Star, Actor, Celebrity”
"While there is no evidence to suggest this was staged, her stumble up the stairs at the 2013 Academy Awards to accept her trophy played a crucial role in creating this impression: she is not ‘trained’ to be a Hollywood star; there is a real person that exists beneath this rather tenuous façade…"
“The Monogamous/Promiscuous Optics in Contemporary Gay Film: Registering the Amorous Couple in ‘Weekend’ (2011) and ‘Paris 05:59: Théo & Hugo’ (2016)”
Excerpt: "The specificity in our reference to ‘gay cinema’ and ‘gay film’ is both a speculative and strategically essentialist move in contradistinction to the ways in which the post-1990s uses of the term ‘queer’ attempt to revise and interrogate the identitarian regimes of gay and lesbian politics. This turn to ‘gay’ does not necessarily prioritise a contestation of the constructivist appropriations of what B. Ruby Rich defined as New Queer Cinema (NQC). However…
“Wonderland: the Digital and the Cosmopolitan at the Borderlands in ‘Monsters’”
"Sitting atop of the Mayan temple, Andrew and Sam marvel at their surroundings – the magic space that has transformed them. Metacinematically, they also marvel at the presence of the weightless digital in the midst of…"
“You’re Nicked: Investigating British Television Police Series”
""Each chapter covers a decade within the genre, starting in the 1950s and 1960s and ending with the 2010s. Every chapter covers production contexts before moving on to explore some of the most popular texts of that decade in more detail…"
A city without a hero: ‘Joker’ and rethinking hegemony
The mutually defining relationship between Batman and the Joker is a succinct and entertaining way to present parables about abstract cultural ideals like justice, morality, social compliance, and economic stratification.
A tale of two masculinities: Joaquin Phoenix, Todd Phillips, and ‘Joker’s’ double can(n)on
While 'Joker' has inspired impassioned debate about whether it proffers critical insight about or a rallying cry for the white male underclass, such ambivalence is already pre-figured in the trope of Arthur as sad clown, whose sob-inflected cackle tells us he is wailing on the inside while laughing on the outside.
Ace in the hole: media panics, muted voices, and anxieties of consumption in the reception of ‘Joker’
Comic books, the Batman franchise, and jokers and clowns have traditionally led media to raise alarm over ‘villainy’ (and the Joker is one heck of a villain, in DC Universe’s ‘Year of the Villain’ that was 2019), connoted via such words as ‘freak’, ‘evil’, ‘deviancy’, and ‘harm’ as being at odds with normative culture.